9 June 2006
Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)
Bleak Spring No. 1
signed 'Hitchens' (lower left) and signed again, and inscribed 'IVON HITCHENS/Greenleaves, Lavington Common/Petworth Sussex/"Bleak Spring No 1."' (on a label attached to the stretcher)
oil on canvas
20 x 33 in. (50.8 x 83.8 cm.)
Sir William and Lady Hayter, New College, Oxford.
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The Studio, 138, July - December 1949, p. 25, illustrated.
London, Leicester Galleries, First Exhibition of Paintings by John Napper, Recent Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, March 1949, no. 21.
During the war the Hitchens family had moved to the safety of the countryside in Sussex. When the war ended and he was free to travel, Hitchens could only rarely be persuaded to leave the country. The isolation, from being a wartime necessity, had become a habit and then a personal need. His painting came from a total absorption in nature and an acute sensitization of all his senses, not only his eyes. The atmosphere that many of his pictures evoke is a result of this intensity of response; in some of his paintings one is aware of great stillness. To maintain such a degree of awareness meant living quietly and without interruptions. The present work with its evocative title is a direct result of such 'oneness' with nature (see P. Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, London, 1990, p. 63).
Sir William Hayter was Britain's Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1957 and played a key role in the groundbreaking visit of Nikita S. Khrushchev to Britain in 1956. Sir William was also warden of New College, Oxford from 1958 to 1976.
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